Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Merlins are magic, just watch one disappear!

A breezy Tuesday morning, saw me arrive at Peterstone Gout for the high tide. Bullfinches showed well in the hedges on the way to the seawall, as did Redwings.
On the sea, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler and Shelduck were all present in reasonable numbers. Curlews, Dunlin, Grey Plover and 2 flypast Bar Tailed Godwits were all reasonably close, as were about 200 Redshank. Little Egrets were enevitable!
As I started to walk back, a small slate grey raptor with direct, low flight flew past me, and along a hedge, before disappearing into it. 20 minutes later it had not reappeared. Another birder later confirmed that the hedge in question is the favourite hiding place for the Merlin that has been seen from time to time here recently.
No Water Pipits showed, and even Meadow Pipits were mainly flyovers.
Still, a pleasant, although chilly time was had.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Another Bunting Saturday

A morning trip to Cwm Park Darran in drizzle produced the juv Long Tailed Duck that had been present for a few days. It was within 25 yards of me at times, but was typically underwater too much of the time to allow digiscoping or even digibinning, so the best I could manage is a dot without optical aids.
Siskins, Redpoll, Crossbills, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Buzzard and a distant Red Kite also present.
After lunch, Gill was happy to come to Nash Point to look for the obliging Snow Bunting that had recently been reported.
It certainly wasn't bothered by our presence, and Glyn Roberts and Rob Gaze joined us for excellent views. The bird seemed to be feeding well, and the lady in the refreshment hut reckons it's been there for a couple of weeks, so not as long as their unappetising Welsh Cakes!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Aren't Shrikes lovely?

When Gill said she fancied a trip to the Forest of Dean, on a bright sunny November Tuesday, who was I to argue? She won't be on maternity leave for too much longer. First stop was Parkend Church, where we ate our lunch, and only found a few Redwings and Siskins. We moved onto Cannop Ponds, where no plastic quackers showed themselves, but a shortish walk east took us to Farmers Green, where we had aleady been once this year. It took me about 5 seconds to find the returning Great Grey Shrike, in a nearby sapling, about 80 yards away from us. We watched it for about half an hour, as it glided down several times, and apparently failed to find food. The only other birder we saw, said he'd seen a shrike about a mile north east of where we were a couple of hours earlier. Same bird? We were just about to set off back, when a chunky bird landed in the top of a distant tree. The telescope revealed a Hawfinch, nice! New Fancy View was quiet, but pleasant in warmish sunshine. At Beechenhurst Lodge, as we sat outside with our cups of tea, 6+ Bramblings landed briefly in the top of a nearby tree, Siskins sneezed past, and Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch joined the more usual birds on the feeders. So, another successful visit to the Forest of Dean. Wild Boar one day?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

And it started so well . . .

A family walk along the coastal path between Rest Bay and Kenfig Sands at high tide today turned out to be better than expected. There were 36 Knot on the rocks at Pink Bay - a species I completely missed out on in 'Eastern Glamorgan' when I was listing the county last year - along with the usual Oycs and Turnstone. A large flock of about 200 Golden Plover circled overhead for a long time, and the strong sunlight really made their plumage shine. The biggest surprise of the afternoon came when 8 Brent Geese flew in from the east and landed at Sker. Later on I bumped into Martin Bevan and Mike Hogan who told me that they had first seen these birds just over the border in West Glam earlier in the day. Offshore, the Red-throated Diver originally found yesterday, was still hanging around. On we went to Kenfig to add White-rumped Sandpiper to add to the Twitchmeister's list of 2007 lifers. On the way down to the pool though we were informed by Martin and Mike that they'd just seen it flying off strongly in the direction of Kenfig Sands. Gethin was very disappointed and would have uttered a few choice expletives . . . . if he had the vocabulary! Be easy on him the next time you see him.

Bunting Bogey Beaten

On my way to the South Devon Railway Diesel Gala, I had time for a brief visit to Deepway Lane, Exminster, a site where I traditionally miss Cirl Buntings.
Yesterday looked to be following the same pattern, but just before I had to leave, a bird flew into a tree in the garden opposite their favoured field. A brief binocular view revealed a striped face pattern, but before I had time to set the scope up, it flew away! I will succeed in photographing this species at this site, one day!
Below is a close up of detail on one of the locos at the Gala. It's former home depot, Thornaby, near Middlesbrough, used to embellish their locos with the logo below, and this particular loco used to run past my house in Redcar on Potash trains, nice!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Well,fancy meeting you !!

A gap between appointments my previous one being just 5 mins from KNNR gave me at last the chance of catching up with the very confiding White Rumped Sandpiper,which considering I've got a reasonable list of American peeps was a"lifer" for me.
A A visiting birder confirmed it was still on the East pool shore and after a brisk walk and a scan from a distance to make sure I "ticked" it I soon joined another birder quite close to the bird who turned out to be another "Maestegaeu" in Simon Murray.
The bird was so confiding it wasn't true and I was able to get a few reasonable photos through the scope, not wanting to trust my luck and encroach too close and be accused of being "the" birder responsible for it flying off and never being seen again.
I chatted with Simon for a short while and then beat a hasty retreat to the car park for a quick "sarnie" and on to my next appointment in Cardiff picking up the adult Med Gull on one of the posts at the edge of the pool with the BH Gulls on the way.
Arriving at the car park I was greeted by the Hall family making a quick visit whilst Tim's s.o.m car was in having a new clutch fitted,a pre-occupational hazard I guess running a driving school !!
I was introduced to the beautiful Rosie for the first time and picked up another daughter "tick" having met Non with Wayne and Alex at the recent Spot Sand twitch in Cardiff.
She was on best behaviour,full of smiles and posed for a couple of snaps.
It was great to meet up with Tim and Gill again and finally meet baby Rosie,I must drop in soon as Teresa keeps nagging that she wants to see Rosie,she's one broody grand-mother !!........

Rumpy Pumpy!

Fed up with being gripped off by everybody I hauled myself out of bed for an early start this morning. Just after first light I was trudging along the east pool shore at Kenfig. A large flock of Fieldfare flew over and when I flushed a Common Snipe I knew I must have been the first person to walk that way this morning. I walked all of the way to the boathouse but there was no sign of the sandpiper. I doubled back and, convinced the blighter had packed its bags and left over night, I continued searching the mud. Still no sign of it. Fortunately, the proprieter of Celtic Bird Tours was at hand to help. He lifted his bins to his eyes and immediately said "There it is." And by God he was right - there it was, no more than a few feet away from where I'd just been walking. As everybody has already noted it was a very confiding bird and it even showed me its pretty little rump. If only all birds were this obliging. Rosefinches in particular. Anybody know a good optician?